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As internet adoption grows at a double digit pace year on year in Southeast Asia – a 31 percent increase last year – retailers and brands must find ways to capture the wave of the some 80 million new consumers coming online.

Internet shopping has become one of the most robust areas of growth in the last few years, especially in markets like Indonesia and Thailand as both international and local ecommerce players pour money into winning the emerging digital customer in the region.

In such a fragmented market segmented varying in cultures and languages, there are a few common key threads to be noted about the region’s increasingly affluent shoppers:

  • Southeast Asia is mobile first. Mobile subscriptions have increased by 8% since last year, adding an additional 60 million users.
  • Southeast Asian’s are the most actively engaged with social media. Indonesia is sometimes referred to as “Twitter city” whereas Total Access Communication Pcl, estimates that Thais spend up to six hours a day on Facebook and Youtube – the 8th highest in the world.
  • Southeast Asia has low credit card penetration and a large unbanked population – 73 percent – due to a lack of financial maturity.
  • There is an overall low trust in anything ‘digital’ due to its novelty and user unfamiliarity.

So how do retailers, brand stores and marketplaces attract more consumers to shop on their websites?

One highly successful and proven method is to incentivize with large discounts, leading to the emergence of some of the region’s most infamous flash sales.

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End of year is always the busiest time for the retail industry as businesses expect spikes in sales volumes before the official holidays start.

For online players, this period has resulted in some of the most famous annual holiday shopping events such as Cyber Monday, Alibaba’s Single’s Day, and Southeast Asia’s Online Revolution.

In Southeast Asia, the holiday period holds even more significance for ecommerce players as 40% of their sales are generated during the last three months of the year.

eMarketer expects holiday ecommerce sales in the US to jump 16.6% year on year (YoY) in 2017 driven by mobile commerce and competition created by large retailers and digital marketplaces.

Holiday sales Southeast Asia

At least four top marketplaces in Indonesia are holding a shopping event on November 11 (11/11).

In a recent survey conducted by BigCommerce involving 1,000+ brands operating online in the US, around 50% modestly expect up to a 25% sales increase compared to the holiday period last year.

5.4% of businesses expect more than 100% of sales increase. Source: BigCommerce

Some have aimed even higher for good reason.

15.5% of businesses surveyed expect a more than 50% of sales increase during this sales period — even as much as more than 100% sales increase compared to last year. Why?

According to Deloitte, online channels will capture 51% of US consumer budgets this holiday.

With higher sales targets comes more preparation to ensure each part of the ecommerce value chain is ready to handle possible concerns mainly regarding sufficient inventory (50.63%) and delivery expectation (45%).

To full proof operations, over 37% of businesses in the US started planning for this year’s holiday season 1 – 4 months earlier than they did last year.

3.14% of respondents are actually participating in holiday ecommerce sales for the first time. Source: BigCommerce

A lot of preparation is placed during the last few months leading up to the sales event, which for Southeast Asia is coming as soon as this weekend — November 11.

If we look to Southeast Asia, the region has its own holiday mega-sales to prepare for – 11.11 and 12.12 – where order volumes can uplift by almost 300%.

Is Southeast Asia ready for the holiday rush?

The ecommerce markets in US and Southeast Asia draw many similarities. For one, mobile commerce has driven the region’s retail growth for the last two years given the mobile-first behavior of its young population.

There is also enough competition to drive prices down (to ridiculous amounts) and incentivise consumers to shop. Taking a quick glance at advertisements from popular e-marketplaces such as Lazada and Shopee indicate the amount of money being invested to capture consumer holiday spending.

Marketing of end year mega-sales in Southeast Asia. Source: Rappler (left), Shopee Singapore Facebook page (right)

Is your company ready?

Download the Holiday Ecommerce Sales Checklist here.